Part 11: The Quilt Sandwich & Quilting!

by Kim on March 3, 2009

We’re almost done with our quilt! This next part will have you making a Quilt Sandwich – minus the onions and pickles…(Sorry, couldn’t resist!) ;)

I know there are  many ways to do this, but I’ll show you a method that works for me. 

Materials Needed:

  • “Backing” Fabric (a few inches larger – on all sides – of your quilt top) You could use one main fabric or “piece” your backing together.
  • Batting (a few inches larger – on all sides – of your quilt top) There are many battings to choose from. I personally like a thin one called “Warm & Natural.” You can buy it at most hobby/craft stores.
  • Safety Pins
  • Depending on the method you choose to “quilt” this, you may need additional materials. Details below.
  • Optional: T-pins, tape, or basting clamps

Step 1: Start by clearing an area on the table or floor for spreading out your quilt. Place your “backing” (the fabric you want on the back side of the quilt) face down onto the floor or carpet. If you are doing this on the table, you may want to use a little bit of tape to keep down the ends.  You can also use basting clamps made specifically for this, but I used tape. If doing this step on the carpet, use a few t-pins around the outside edge.

Step 2:  Place your batting on top of the “backing fabric.” Smooth flat with your hand.







Step 3: Place the quilt top on the batting, right side up.  Smooth flat with your hand.  Use a little tape, t-pins, or basting clamps to keep everything flat and smooth on your surface.

Step 4: Starting in the center of your quilt, pin all 3 layers together with a safety pin.  Continue to pin approximately every 4 inches, working your way to the outside of the quilt.  Notice how I’ve pinned in the middle of a triangle instead of pinning on the seam. You’ll see why in step 8.

Step 5:  Choose a method for quilting. Here is where some options come in. Choices include:

  • Machine Quilting Yourself: This is the method I chose and will be showing. To do this yourself, you will need a Walking Foot (photo below).  Your machine may have come with a walking foot or you can buy one at your local sewing machine dealer.  Find helpful hints on machine quilting here.
  • Tying Your Quilt: This is the fastest and most inexpensive method. It’s really a cute way to keep the 3 layers together, too. Use yarn or embroidery floss for this method. Find helpful hints on tying a quilt here.
  • Hand Quilting: This is a more time-consuming method, but the results are beautiful. It will give the look of an old-fashioned quilt and can be a very relaxing way to finish off a quilt.  With a needle, thread, and a series of running stitches, this look is gorgeous. Find helpful hints on hand-quilting here.
  • Hire Someone: You may be fortunate enough to have a longarm quilting machine. If you don’t and would like a very intricate design across your quilt, then you may want to find a professional. This will be the more expensive option, but the results of having this done are stunning. The possibilities with this method are endless.

Step 6: Go for it!  Whatever method you choose, don’t worry — just jump right in and try it out! You may feel better in trying these on scrap fabric first. Then move on over to that new quilt of yours…this is fun!

I’m machine quilting using a walking foot. This is good for straight lines, which is exactly what I’m going to do with this particular quilt. Here’s what my walking foot looks like:

Step 7: Plan out in your mind what lines you’re going to stitch along. I’m going to use a “stitch in the ditch” method and sew right along my seams.  Some people choose to sew 1/4″ in from the seam. Either way is fine. The red lines below show you where I’m going to start. Work from the middle of your quilt, out.

Step 8: Lengthen your stitch length to a 3.0 or 3.5. Now stitch in that ditch! :) (See why I didn’t use safety pins along the seam?)

Step 9:  Decide where you will stitch next. It’s fun! The blue lines below show where I stitched next.  I continued this method until I stitched along every straight line (including my border seams).

Step 10: You’re done quilting! Look at the back and admire your work! :) Notice how I used the same color bobbin thread (brown) as my backing. While that is a tip that many use, feel free to use any color you’d like!

Only one more part to go — binding the quilt! Check back next week for that last part. Then we’ll do a little bit of “sew-and-tell” with our quilts!



1 Jodieth 03.03.09 at 11:24 am

This is looking fabulous! I can’t wait to see the end product. Once I have made enough stuff for my shop and am going to start you tutorial. I have been keeping up with it and printing directions. I have never quilted before. I have done everything else there is to do with hand or machine work. I here it is very addictive!

2 Courtney @ Sister To Sister 03.03.09 at 12:41 pm

Oh, Kim! It is just beautiful!!! I just love how you have done this!

I need to get going on mine!!!

3 Carlotta 03.03.09 at 5:50 pm

I have been waiting for this but now I’m too intimidated by it to start. Please tell me, does a quilt have to be quilted to be considered a quilt. I know it sounds crazy, but couldn’t I just leave this part out and it still be considered a quilt? If I do decided to quilt, am I to back stitch at the beginning and end, starting at the middle of the quilt one section at a time? Or start at the middle, backstitch, and then continue quilting a section at a time without stopping? Thanks for bearing with me.

4 jenny 03.03.09 at 6:21 pm

Sorry in advance for this beginner’s question!
When you say “work from the middle out,” do you mean start stitching in the center of the quilt, or just do the lines that cross the center first (but start stitching at the edge)? kwim?

5 Carla 03.04.09 at 10:28 am

In all my sewing mess, I can only find 5 safety pins – ack! Looks like I’m heading to the fabric store (again).

I just ordered myself a walking foot, too. I’ve been wanting one for a while, and this project is the perfect excuse :) .

6 Kim @ 03.04.09 at 10:41 am

Hi Carlotta,
I understand where you’re coming from — my first quilt was VERY intimidating, too! What you have created is a piece of art! It could even be framed if you wanted! Yes, on the backstitching. Just a couple of stitches at the beginning and end of each line will do. Start at the middle, backstitch, and continue quilting to towards the outside.

Also, test on some scrap fabric first. Put your quilt-sandwich together and give it a try. You will probably find that it is easier than you thought.

I hope that helps. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.

7 Kim @ YouCanMakeThis 03.04.09 at 10:45 am

Jenny – that is a great question. I’m glad you asked! I started in the middle (center of quilt) and worked out towards the edge (shown with the red lines). Then I skipped a seam over (shown with blue lines) and stitches from middle out. From there I filled in the areas (seams) that hadn’t been stitched yet (including my borders). Working from the middle, out, helps your fabric stay where it should be.

Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with. I’m excited to see your quilt!

8 Kim @ YouCanMakeThis 03.04.09 at 10:47 am

Carla – I’ll find any excuse I can to go to the fabric store — safety pins, an 1/8 yard of must-have fabric, a mommy “time-out”, you name it. :)

9 Cindy C. 03.06.09 at 6:47 am

Do you think I would have problems if I used a fabric that stretched on the back when the front is not stretchy? I’m thinking I am either going to have to pin it a lot, or just doing the tying method.

10 Kim @ YouCanMakeThis 03.08.09 at 12:15 pm

Hi Cindy C.,
That’s a good question. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure because I’ve never tried it, but I think my only concern would be that a stretchy fabric on the back could pucker. I think if you used a lot of pins, as well as a temporary spray adhesive, you may be ok. Also, be sure not to pull at the fabric too much because of the stretch (thus, those puckers…) and use a walking foot. I hope that helps. I can also ask my quilting buddies in my quilt group or here online. Anyone have an experience with Cindy C’s question? Thanks in advance!


11 Mari 03.12.09 at 8:22 am

I have loved learning how to do a quilt. I have two more cut out and another top already sewn because I had to do somthing while waiting for more instructions. Is there a way to copy and print the instructions you have been blogging? Not only am I new at quilting I am also only moderately computer savy and not sure how to print sections of an blog. Thank you for your help.

12 Kim @ YouCanMakeThis 03.12.09 at 11:07 pm

Hi Mari!
I’m glad you asked — Actually, I think I will put together all the tutorials into one PDF that people can download. Then you will always have a copy. I’m also going to make another blog post at the end that links to every part of the process. Since some of those tutorials were on our old blog, it will be an easy way for everyone to find them.

I’m so glad you are having fun with this! I’d love to see your photos when you’re done!

Kim :)

13 Kei 03.22.09 at 3:37 am

I must get my batting soon, so I can get on with this step! Can’t wait! Oh, and I need to reset the sewing machine too, as one of the small people has twiddled the tension controls.

14 Karen 03.27.09 at 7:07 am

I am excited to dream the possibility of making my first quilt. I grew up watching my grandmother cut squares and sew them into a quilt top and then quilt the most beautiful quilts. I am thankful that I had my grandmothers and mother and mother-in-laws quilt a block/square for me to put into a quilt for my son. Since they have done this, one grandmother has passed away and the other one had a stroke and can not use her hands, so I am blessed to have these squares, the hard part now is making the quilt by me. I look forward to learning alot from this website since I have waited so long in accomplishing my first quilt. Thank you for the opportunity to learn the different methods.

15 Rebecca 08.23.09 at 8:17 am

Out of every website I tried to read for quilt sandwich instructions, yours was the only one that showed me exactly what I need to do! Thank you!

16 julie 03.15.10 at 5:36 pm

Ok im trying to do this without a machine all by hand lol funny right. My first quilt my 6 yr old wants a bear one im doing my best this partis whatim worried about can i do it with out the machine? oh man i hope so let me know thank you.

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